ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112
Exquisite Corpse: A Whole with Many Parts

black and white geometric figure with a black rectangle in a white box above it

Babel, from Citizens of No Place (Jimenez Lai, 2012).

  • Instructor: Jimenez Lai, Mark Acciari
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

This studio examines a large mixed-use architecture — a building that contains multiple worlds within it. By subdividing this large building into parts, we can produce an architecture with character both on the outside and on the inside.

Students are asked to consider design at all scales, "from spoons to cities," so the saying goes. This range of design demands that the architect has a comprehensive understanding of human culture. Another way of framing this is the notion of Gesamtkunstwerk, or "total work of art" — a design ambition in which the architect fully anticipates the choreography of social dynamics within his or her designs. As such, design is not just a creation of hardware (architecture), but also a creation of software (culture).

In this studio, we will establish a part-to-whole understanding of the project. The "whole" being a collection of cities inside of a building, a mixed-use structure we will call a phalanstery. The "parts" being prefectures or jurisdictions that should each have their own architectural, economic, and sociopolitical agendas. Apart, this is a city of cities, but, when recombined together, this city becomes one oversized building with subpockets of plural cultures within it. Akin to a surrealist Exquisite Corpse, each individual jurisdiction will take on their own "thesis."

The site for this studio is Taipei, a city with high density and a housing shortage. Resultantly, people build (often illegal) buildings on top of buildings. We are proposing to formalize this approach by adding buildings onto an existing block in Taipei and studying its implications.

Through the lens of set theory, we will consider how superimpositions, differences, mergers, and other mathematical sets impact the architecture spatially, materially, structurally, and programmatically. We will also study the existence and formation of subcultures at the site.

Visiting Critic Jimenez Lai will be in Ithaca for visits on the following dates: August 30, September 13–16, October 11–14, October 30–November 1, November 13–15, and December 6 (or final review) and will also participate in the September 21–29 field trip* to Taiwan. Visiting Critic Mark Acciari will collaborate in the studio on a full-time basis in Ithaca.

*$500 field trip contribution per student is required.

View a PDF of this class description.